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Updated 2 months ago
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2 months ago

Beech Mtn had catastrophe hit this winter when  both the lifts that went to the top of the mountain broke down pretty much permanently.  These events precipitated an early shutdown of the mountain.  They have bought and are installing two new lifts this summer.

https://www.beechmountainresort.com/2018/03/27/installation-two-new-chairlifts-begin/

So if you have your act together old infrastructure can be replaced even at a small, independent mountain.

 

2 months ago

Helps to have a good credit rating and good relationship with the local populationm er umm to have your act together..  That said, Beech has had persistant lift problems the entire 10 years I’ve been skiing in NC.  I see they went fixed grip instead of high speed but with conveyer loading.  Not sure I’ll like that but we shall see..

2 months ago

Hidden Valley went with conveyer loading on their new fix grip chairs but the conveyers have since been removed. That system was installed maybe in 2007 or 06 so it will be interesting to see how the ones at Beech work out.

2 months ago

Good post on challenging topic.  Any lessons in this for Blue Knob and Timberline?

2 months ago

Yeah, unless they have made improvements with the conveyor technology it wouldn’t be my preference.

The two main issues at Hidden Valley were that the belt constantly broke down and getting parts there seemed to take forever.  Which the up again/down again thing isn’t an insurmountable issue, as the lift can still be used.

And perhaps more importantly, what I noticed is that beginners — the people by far the most likely to stop any lift — really struggled with it and it led to even more frequent lift stoppage.  When you ski out on to it, briefly you are still moving and the belt is moving, but obviously you become stationary on the belt while it continues to move….and something about that particular moment or sensation causes beginners to fall over.

2 months ago

I was visiting last weekend and spoke to a proprieter at a local business who was very hooked into local skiing/mountain biking scene.  Their attitude did reflect some negativity concerning the old system and she specifically mentioned how upset people were with shutting down during one of the snowiest March’s they have had.  However,  she was extremely happy and upbeat about the positive things that were happening on the mountain specifically the new lifts and continued improvement in the mountain biking program.  She told me the mountain has double revenue from their mountain biking every single year since they started providing lift served mountain biking which was interesting. 

 

PS - I hate those conveyors specifically because of that initial feeling (it just feels unnatural to a skier) and would think they really make beginners uncomfortable.

2 months ago

Beech is already sold out of mountain bike tickets for tomorrow.

As for the conveyers, how does that impact the bases and wax?  If I forget to scrape will that rub some of it down so the first run isn’t as sketchy?

2 months ago

Liberty and Whitetail both have conveyors on essential lifts and they seem to work pretty well. On skis they don’t bother me at all, they are a bit awkward on a board the first time, but overall I think they help things as I rarely see them have to stop for loading issues.

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

Massanutten installed the first conveyor loading lift as a replacement for the old double chair in 2009.  Most beginner skiers have no issues.  Beginner snowboarders are more likely to mess up.  Conveyor loading was retrofitted to the long beginner lift a year later.  Lift 4 serves the long Southern Comfort green, as well as provices access for Lift 6 to the top.  While Lift 4 stil stops when beginners mess up, now it’s usually because of a problem unloading, not loading.

I know it was the expert skiers who didn’t like the conveyor loading added to the Supreme triple at Alta.  Intermediates did fine.  Not as easy to load as a detachable quad but a fixed-grip chair lift with conveyor loading is a lot less expensive than a detachable lift.

As with snowguns or chairlifts or RFID gates, technology evolves from earlier variations.

Made no difference on how often I needed to wax when Mnut added conveyor loading.  The idea is to be moving slow when landing on the belt, not trying to slide on the belt.

https://youtu.be/0zTTSzgyzKA - loading demo for conveyor at Massanutten

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

TomH wrote:

PS - I hate those conveyors specifically because of that initial feeling (it just feels unnatural to a skier) and would think they really make beginners uncomfortable.

Do you think the shuffling or poling or skating that’s needed to load a fixed grip chair lift is “natural” to a beginner?  Or even to an intermediate who is used to a detachable lift that slows for loading?  Kids adjust quickly.  My daughter get in the correct position for loading a lift with relatively little help at age 5.  Adult beginners … not so quickly.

My friend who learned to ski at the same time as her kids had no problem with Massanutten conveyor loading from Day 1.  One of the reasons it took a while before I was ready to take her up Lift 5 to the easiest blue was because I knew she wasn’t quite ready for loading the chair without needing it slowed every time.  Have to be even faster for the longer loading zone for Lift 6.  That’s part of what keeps some intermediates off that lift, which is fine with me.

2 months ago

Beech has been really well run the last 5 years.  They built the sky bar which is great, took down the eyesore Robins run lift, improved snowmaking, relocated the terrain park to an unused area, bought new rentals, built a new tube park, and probably lots more I don’t remember.  Both new lifts are good plans and as everyone knows - long, long overdue.  The owners have really done a good job it I think. They have numerous advantages in termso of being in a popular established vacation area and having a good local and day trip skier population. The main negative is uncertain weather.  I think they are doing about as good as a near deep south ski area can do.  

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

Probably just as important that Beech has continued to add summer activities.  Even have a Summer version of the website.  They are providing a paid shuttle service for downhill mountain biking this summer.  Sold out for June 2 and June 3.  A half-day beginner bike package is $150 for lesson, shuttle, and rental gear.  Sounds like a money maker to me.

https://www.beechmountainresort.com/summer/

2 months ago

marzNC wrote:

Probably just as important that Beech has continued to add summer activities.  Even have a Summer version of the website.  They are providing a paid shuttle service for downhill mountain biking this summer.  Sold out for June 2 and June 3.  A half-day beginner bike package is $150 for lesson, shuttle, and rental gear.  Sounds like a money maker to me.

https://www.beechmountainresort.com/summer/

I think the real money comes from food and lodging. (And lift tickets after people buy their own bikes) I know the bikes that Snowshoe rents for downhill are $3000-$4000+ bikes (specialized enduro or demo 8) and they have to run repairs on them throughout the season. That $150 is probably not making them any money between the shuttle, instructors, cost of safety pads, etc. They are really hoping people will come back again and spend money on food and beverage as well.

 

2 months ago

rbrtlav wrote:

 

I think the real money comes from food and lodging. (And lift tickets after people buy their own bikes) I know the bikes that Snowshoe rents for downhill are $3000-$4000+ bikes (specialized enduro or demo 8) and they have to run repairs on them throughout the season. That $150 is probably not making them any money between the shuttle, instructors, cost of safety pads, etc. They are really hoping people will come back again and spend money on food and beverage as well.

 

I’m not sure about that.  I think the ski area runs much more independently than at Snowshoe, which is about the most inclusive place I have seen.  

marzNC - DCSki Supporter
2 months ago

Massanutten charges $80 for a 3-hour beginner package for lift-served mountain biking.  Like Snowshoe, Mnut is a 4-season resort has resort lodging, food, and lots of other paid activities to offer.

Beech Mountain Resort is more a collection of independent and interdependent businesses around the mountain and the town of Beech Mountain.  Pricing bike packages as a loss leader doesn’t quite make sense to me.  I don’t expect there to be much profit per package.  But at least on busy weekends, I would hope there isn’t a loss.

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